Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

This day – Memorial Day is a time for remembrance. It is a day to reflect back on the greatness of men who have fallen. It is about honoring the foot soldiers, who advanced the cause. When connecting this day with college football, Pat Tillman the war hero and former Arizona State Sun Devil are justifiably inseparable. On Friday afternoon it was announced that Tillman would headline this year’s class going into the College Football Hall of Fame (CFHOF); however, there is one name, a warrior as well, was left out of the parade – Erk Russell.

Nothing seems to bury a story than releasing it on a Friday afternoon. Do it on a three day holiday – it really gets dug a grave. Do it the first weekend of summer – it is deep six. Yet, the CFHOF did exactly that when it announce the next class of inductees. Even more impertinent, Coach Russell’s name did not appear, again.

Something is outrageously wrong with the process. A year ago, Jim Donnan had his induction to the College Football HOF. His accomplishments are well noted: Asst @ OU under Barry Switzer for 5 yrs, winning a NC @ Marshall, later coaching UGA and having a overall record of 104 – 40 (.722), as head coach. Stellar accomplishments in his own right but make no mistake he went in based on his record at the D1-AA level. Now compare that record against Erk Russell. 17 years as an Asst. @ UGA, he created a stingy defense. In 192 games he had 27 shutouts, kept opponents to less than (17) 135 times, and only 18 times had 28 or more points scored on him (that’s a quarter in the Big 12). He revived a dormant program at GA SO. At first they were a club team, then D-II, then D1-AA (FCS). After he moved up to D1-AA, he had a .825 winning percentage (70-14), winning 3 – not just 1 – National Championships. A year after he retired, Mike Sewak (now OL coach @ GT), won another NC – with his players. Overall, he was 83-22-1 (.788) which trumps the ex-Thundering Terd Herd coach. Coach Russell was named Coach of the DECADE in 1989 by USA Today, for the 4 National Titles he help deliver (’80 UGA & ’85,’86, ’89 GA SO).

This year Barry Alvarez and Gene Stallings were selected as the Head Coaches to go in. Again their total accomplishments while notable are in sum less than what Erk Russell did – longest tenured HC at Wisconsin with back to back Rose Bowl victories in the late ‘90 and a Junction City Boy after a brief stint – a 6 year run - led Alabama to winning 1 national title. Again Erk Russell’s .788 winning percentage easily out distances their respective winning percentages of .605 and .556 and a four to one ratio set the pace for national titles.

The CFHOF used to have a criteria that coach must have 100 or more victories to be considered, thus Erk Russell is ineligible to enter in as HC; there was no provision made for assistant coaches to enter. With the selection of Gene Stallings that ceiling has been broken, who only had 89 total victories (and a loosing record at TAMU). Coach Russell could coach circles around Donnan, Alvarez, and Stallings – give each of them a clinic.  IF the CFHOF is supposed to represent greatness- not just longevity, nor brief spurts of excellence; then Coach Russell should have been at the head table, ahead of the line. A highway named after him that runs thru Hopeulikit, GA is nice, but Coach Russell is more fitting for enshrinement. Posthumously, there ought to be another victory cigar lit in South Bend.

Well maybe after the CFHOF gets moved to Atlanta, we can finally lay to rest this story – with the honor its’ owed…. GATA RIP

Trees, Mailboxes and Poles

With EA sports announcing that Gus Johnson will be the new voice on Madden 11, The Sporting News Today – The Sporting Blog asked a deep question: “Who would you want to do commentary for your life?” They broke it down into major life events.

Some of the choices were dead on ringers – Vin Scully @ Graduation; Gus Johnson @ Prom (Although as a father of 2 girls I’m not liking “rise and fire” as much as I use too.). And taking Bill Raftery to Winn Dixie for some “Onions!” was spot on. I’ve got to disagree on Keith Jackson doing a birth announcement. The last thing I want to hear is that “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumble!!! or a Whoa Nelly! (Don’t know if that’s good or bad in the delivery room.) And sure don’t want to hear, regarding my daughter, that she’s “a debutante from Alllaaaaaabama.”. I gotta pick Larry Munson. “Get the picture the doc all deck out in green scrubs…she’s prone going left to right across your dial…Hunker down just 1 more time…..Do you realize how crazy its’ going be tonight ….I still can’t believe what I just saw!” over Al Michaels “Do you believe in miracles?!!?” For the honeymoon I need a substitute there as well. I need to go with either Dan Patrick referring to my wife as she’s “EN Fuego…can’t stop her---only hope is to contain her” or that Spanish soccer announcer delivering a well timed “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL.”! And definitely Jim Nantz over Mike Lange at my funeral: he delivers enthusiasm even in his golfer voice.

Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner turned consultant, sees the way where the Big East can survive.

Two things wrong with his theory.
1) Doesn’t ESPN eventually run out of money? I mean the ACC just got a mega new deal; they owe $3B to the SEC; the Big 12, Pac-10 and NOW the Big East wants more. I know that ESPN lost the bid for March Madness, but jeez they couldn’t have had that much in reserves to make everyone happy.

2) Paul is trying copy the ACC playbook. Package both Hoops and Pigskin together. His problem is that Basketball in the Little Least is much more dominating (over football) than the ACC. Football in the ACC does have the traditional national powers FSU, Miami, VA Tech and somehow Boston College seems to pull off a yearly Top 20 season. Add in the mix for the ACC that GT and UNC are on an uptick in football, along side Clemson’s inconsistency, and you have a foundation for a solid league. With Big East football flashes in the pan, WVU hasn’t been relevant since Bobby Bowden or Major Harris roamed Morgantown. Sure Rich-Rod tried but again not a since he bolted for Meeeeeeeechigan. Louisville flash in the pan with Bobby P’s prolific O. Cincy will be a flash now that Brian Kelly is at ND. S. Fla where are they since rising to #2 in the nation – with a new HC! Also working against Paul T. is that NOBODY watches Providence vs Seton Hall on Tuesday night in late January. It might be very compelling game, but it’s not moving the meter the way it once did. Additionally, conference tournaments are becoming less valuable as expansion of the NCAA tournament continues. So from a leverage standpoint, Paul T. has zilch – air ball!

Over signing – who really cares? All must get down to 85 scholarships for football. Coaches over sign because kids haven’t qualified and the Coaches are CYA themselves with this shotgun approach thinking surely if we sign 38, 25 will make it and then they aren’t scrambling around to fill out a roster with quality talent. Who’s bent out of shape? Big 10. But anecdotally, they tend to “Gray shirt” more players. OSU had a starting QB before Terrell Pryor that was a Gray shirt. Isn’t that really achieving the same goal for protecting a roster by “over signing”?
How can you earn $60M and go broke?

Knicks' Eddy Curry [is] he's behind in loan payments… Supreme Court Justice Jane Solomon ordered Curry to pay $75,000 a month plus interest on his $570,000 personal loan from Allstar Capital, according to the New York Daily News. Curry took out the loan in 2008 at 85% interest, a rate that's legal to charge only in Nevada, according to the Daily News.
Take out a loan with a friggen 85% interest rate is how!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Academics of Expansion

Everywhere you turn in college sports one is confronted by the fact that Big 10 is holding the rest of us hostage with their expansion waffling. They are trying on every shoe in the department store looking for the “right fit” Inevitably the talk shifts, after football and footprint, to “academics”. The subject becomes the Big 10 scholarly superiority and how all Big 10 institutions are members of AAU – THE Association of American Universities, spoken through the nasal passage which is pointed northward.

Membership allows presidents to exchange their neckties for ascots and a bow tie, exchanging their shorty for a phat stogie. Alliance allows a university to go from being a great place for higher learning to academic aficionado. Faster than Keith Jackson can yell “Whoa Nelly!”, translated for our esteemed fellows’ means au contraire, I wish to raise a couple of points. First in terms of being academically elite, not even all Ivy League institutions are members of your little club. Second, the school that you are just salivating and bed wetting over to join you (ND) is not a member. Gawd knows how well they are thought of in terms of being a traditional power and tough curriculum. They share with the mere mortals the same song every waking breathe. The Big 10 points out that association with them and THE AAU brings in truck bed load of cash. No, it really doesn’t scream superiority, but it does say that you are connected to some slick politicians who pile on the pork – slicker than the Louisiana coast line.

Most of the Big 10 comes from the same seed or acorn where the SEC brethren originated. They have a foundation of being a land grant universities, agriculture and teacher colleges. (Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa….) They both have grown doing scientific research in myriad of areas of study. Every school has the same microscope posed scene played back in the self promoting video during a telecast. Furthermore, no matter how many times Michigan touts itself as “The Harvard of the Midwest” doesn’t make true, not once in any era!

I get so daggum sick and tired of that hoity toity attitude, I could just spit. Here a cup of shut-up juice, actually a 64 ounce Big Gulp glass for the Big 10. Your champ for the decade – THE Ohio State – try on a 0 for 10 for size. How does that feel?

Take a spin on that during the next meeting of your golden guild.

St. Timmy

I got told of about this article in the May 17th issue of  Americian Thinker. Since my Twitter username is Gawdsport, I simply had to weigh in on the topic that Tim Tebow is getting a bad rep in the press due to his beliefs.

For full disclosure, I consider myself an Evangelical Christian. Evangelical in the spirit that I hope that by words and deeds that I lead a life that will pique the interest of those around me, and that I have issued invitations to “hang out” or “come with” me after forming close relationships assured that any answer will be all right, I do agree with the author that most of the media is left leaning, but so are most college educated people. I disagree with the notion that is categorically bad and that most reporters can’t be objective. For the record, I voted John McCain. As a DAWG, it is with enormous displeasure to say anything positive about, to come to the aid, of ANY gator.

I reject this article on several fronts. Primarily, on the overall arching theme that Tim Tebow’s Christianity, character and life choices are a determent and vilified in/ by the media, I completely disagree. How else could a 3rd round talent be chosen in the 1st? It was because people were saying, writing and reporting nice things about Tebow. By several pundits you heard “he’ll be successful at the next level because of his leadership abilities.” Never mind that he will more than likely be another footnote in the long line of Quarterbacks who won the Heisman trophy, but have done squadoosh on the NFL field. Another fav cliché thrown out the air waves was “he’s a hard worker.” Unless you are named JaMarcus Russell, EVERBODY studies film, prepares for and works extremely hard. Players drop out of the first round because of off field issues and rumor (Brian Cushing and steroid use at USC, which turned out to be true) and the inverse is also true. A player can be a safe pick because he has no off field trouble and can “be the face of the team”. The positive press, by and large, is EXACTLY the reason that you saw the rise in Tebow stock and he was the 25th pick in the draft; it wasn’t due to talent.

Some of Stuart Schwartz points raised are against reporters that he has distain for rather than beefing up and supporting his central thesis. A prime example of this is when begins his rant against Tony Kornheiser.
Witness Tony Kornheiser, popular ESPN commentator and long-time Washington Post columnist, who often starts his cable show, "PTI," with a leering remark about having sex. In his early sixties with a scraggly beard and balding head, Kornheiser has the on-air presence of the creepy uncle you shoo away from the kids on family picnics...and he has just finished a suspension for making sexist remarks on air about a female colleague.
In terms of ideology Tony and Stuart are fairly close, which probably baffles Stuart. Tony was railing against females flaunting themselves, inappropriately dressed, on NATIONAL TV. Which if one was to poll Stuart on, I am most certain that he opposes as well. Should female anchors on TV wear shirts open to the navel, short skirts with 4” heeled red leather boots to the knee? Where’s the Disney wholesomeness it that picture? Plus, this adds nothing to his argument that Tim is singled out by the national media for his beliefs. This is his bias.

As a Dr. – Dr. Schwartz, a published professor of media marketing at Liberty University, I was disappointed in that anecdotal evidence that he uses through out the essay. He uses the Ben Roethlisberger as an example, from beginning to end as an illustration of the double standard that exists in the way players with beliefs (Tim Tebow) are treated as opposed to those (implied antithesis) without beliefs. This is a point that is never clarified through out the piece: Tim is picked on for beliefs as opposed to ____ are not? Players who are in trouble with the law? Diva’s? Players who don’t believe? Players who believe but don’t profess? All the above? No one else, but Tim? Again in terms of full disclosure and that coverage I was highly critical of ESPN not reporting on this Milledgeville story sooner than waiting 48 hours to do so. First, I have never meet Ben; I never have heard that he was agnostic, professing or practicing. I do know that there wasn’t enough EVIDENCE to secure an indictment by the District Attorney in that case, and that threshold is very low proof standard. I do know that’s Ben’s judgment was severely questioned: “If he shows that poor of judgment off the field, how can he show good judgment and lead his team on the field?” Additionally many reporters called for, which he got a ban from the NFL. So by in large, I don’t think that Ben skated by the national sports media. Also from a “Christian” viewpoint, he uses the Mike Vick saga incorrectly. As reported by Tony Dungy, Mike is a new man going from “Bad Newz” kennels to reaffirming his beliefs in the Good News. My faith tells me that turn-a-round events should be more celebration than continued harping over the original sin. My GOD is one of second chances; third, fourth, fifth and sixth for me personally. Redemption.

From the St. Timmy references to being question about his sex life at SEC media day to ridicule for his missionary work, yes Tim Tebow has faced unflattering articles, unwarranted criticism and out-of-bounds questioning. But this is reactionary due to the overwhelming, at times nauseating amounts of, positive press that was occurring – not an onslaught of negative and the press was piling on. It was Tyler Hansbrough –esque. It was GPOOE™ (Greatest Player of our Era) admiration from the vast portion of the media looking for an easy story line to hook readers and listeners. It was lazy reporting that finally led to a backlash that is depicted in Dr. Schwartz’s article. As portrayed no one can be that good. No it isn’t Tim’s fault, nor is it society’s fault when people make bad choices as Dr. Schwartz correctly points out. Can you find those articles that he cites? Yes. Some are taken out of context from my viewpoint. That “St. Timmy” comment was first referenced to how well above the standard QB Tim was playing, a compliment and went uncited. How many more thousands, hundred of thousands, of articles are in a positive light about Tim Tebow? I wished that Dr. Schwartz would have been more empirical and complete in the Lexis-Nexis search before drawing his conclusion.

Even Dr. Schwartz had to admit Tim Tebow’s popularity was not damaged by these few, handful of, negative articles. He cited correctly that Tim has the best selling rookie jersey. Not only is it best selling, but #2 isn’t within shouting distance. This adds further proof on my position that either the articles cited weren’t taken seriously by the reader or if the media “out to get you and tear you down” bias does exists it has failed to find root by mainstream (clear thinking) people. And the alternative I suggest is: this is true because the public is bombarded with positive articles about GPOOE™.

I believe that humility and selfless acts are commendable. I too don’t like family or faith being mocked and in those incidents where attacks occurred, it was wrong. But the linkage between Tim and critics JUST BEACAUSE of his Christianity is just egregious and just erroneous. The vast majority of the pre-draft reporting either only pointed out mechanical error in his throwing motion or was supportive in his efforts to change – it was football related or his “intangibles” would help him. Tim is not the only player picked on by the press. All players face scrutiny, speculation and are subjected to analysis for a host of reasons, year around; to claim otherwise is crying wolf and makes you sound whimpy. Yes, Jeff Pearlman, blog boob heads, et. al were vindictive about his Christianity, but those of Dr Schwartz elk need to recognize that Tim is no longer at N.H.S (Nease High); this is now the N-F-L, brother……. Wear big boy panties to play big boy football.

Question: How does Sarah Palin fit into a sport story again?